It’s official, we are on final approach for launching our 2015 season. Helping our guests experience and learn about the amazing wildlife and cultures of our coast while enjoying the comfort and authenticity of the schooner Passing Cloud is what we do.
It’s now just a few weeks until we depart for Pacific Rim National Park to join in on all the ecological excitement that’s going on out there. Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s happening right now in our nearshore waters. The increasing day length is triggering phytoplankton, seaweeds, and marine invertebrates and fishes to start reproducing. Most notably, literally millions of Pacific herring are moving into kelp forests and eelgrass meadows throughout the coast to deposit their eggs, feeding enormous congregations of salmon, seabirds, sea lions, gray whales, attracting their predators too, resident and transient orcas.
In this newsletter we have recent news for you, updates from Haida Gwaii, a wildlife spotlight on Pacific herring, and 2015 expedition availability updates, including our Spring in the Great Bear Forest repositioning cruise. Our expeditions are filling up fast, so don’t get caught without a stateroom, contact us soon to book your 2015 adventure aboard the Passing Cloud. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!
Russell Markel, PhD
Founder and President
Ship-based field school with University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies
Last month we set out on our first expedition of the season, taking 12 University of Victoria School of Environmental Studies students out on a five-day field course. During the week we explored the Southern Gulf Islands and Salish Sea. The general goal of this course is to explore local coastal conservation issues facing the communities of this region. A definite highlight was our community meeting hosted by the Saturna Island Marine Research and Education Society (SIMRES).
Wildlife Spotlight: Pacific Herring
Each spring millions of Pacific Herring move inshore to deposit their eggs on seagrass, kelp, and other seaweeds. This massive phenomenon is evident all over the coast, as their eggs coat the shoreline and tidal plants such as eel grass, and the water changes to a milky hue. This extraordinary occurrence plays a key role in our marine ecosystem, feeding many animals from as small as salmon to as large as gray whales. As we head into Pacific Rim National Park each April, we arrive in time to witness this natural event and see the masses of wildlife that come into forage on this tiny fish and their eggs. This little fish, which is one of the most abundant species on our coast has been a major topic of discussion recently, as the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations prepare to head to Federal Court to try and stop the opening of the commercial herring roe fishery on the west coast (breaking news, the fishery has been cancelled!).
Updates from Haida Gwaii
Each June as we begin sailing north towards Haida Gwaii, we are filled with anticipation and excitement. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site is an incredibly special place and continues to have new exciting developments and discoveries. For example:
In 2014, teams from Parks Canada in Ottawa, as well as archaeologists and mechanical engineers from the University of Victoria teamed up with the Haida Nation in search of underwater cultural resources. They found evidence of human habitation dating back more than 12,000 years ago.
This, along with animal monitoring programs studying various wildlife, student rediscovery camps, and salmon fry releases are all examples of other projects going on in the park to further integrate the community into its operations and reconnect the Haida people with their heritage.
Although this isolated archipelago is only 70 km of the BC coast, it provokes emotions akin to exploring the very edge of the world. It is spectacular, from the bottom of the sea floor to the tips of ancient spruce trees. If Haida Gwaii isn’t on your bucket list already, it should be!
In the News: Outer Shores Charting a Course for Ecotourism
Russ recently sat down with Britney Hope from Pax News West to discuss Outer Shores, and why conservation matters, you can read the whole interview here: